REVIEW: ‘The Ludocrats,’ Issue #1 (of 5)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ludocrats #1

The Ludocrats #1, written by Kieron Gillen and Jim Rossignol, illustrated by Jeff Stokely, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, and lettered by Clayton Cowles, is published by  Image Comics. The Ludocrats enter into marriages to secure their position; the more ludicrous, the better. “Boring” is the one thing you never want to be in this world. Readers follow the adventures of the bacchanalian Baron Otto Van Hades and his sister, Professor Hades Zero-K, as they attend one of the many Ludocrat weddings and the reception, where things take a turn for the worse.

There are many words one can use to describe The Ludocrats #1. “Insane” comes to mind. So does “trippy”, “irreverent,” and of course “ludicrous.” However, one word that never crossed my mind while reading this issue? “Coherent.” There isn’t really a clear sense of where the story is going or what the end goal is, and that will probably leave readers feeling lost and confused. Zany antics can only take you so far.

Gillen and Rossignol definitely pack this book full of zany antics. The very first page features Otto naked nd covered in blood, which he calls a “blood gown.” There’s talk of “pelvic weaponry,” a “Eldritch hyper-pope” and a miniature crossover with Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s Casanova. It often feels like the two writers are trying to one-up themselves in terms of off the wall concepts, and while they succeed more often than not, I felt myself asking “Where is this going?”

Gillen is no stranger to introducing outlandish characters and storylines as seen in Once and Future and Die. Whether this disconnect is the result of sharing co-writing with Rossignol or shifting full tilt into comedy, I’m not sure. But The Ludocrats #1 lacks the sharp wit and plotting of Gillen’s previous works.

Ludocrats #1

Stokely fares far better with his work, which feels cartoonish in every sense of the word. Sound effects blend beautifully into the background; when Otto beheads one of his unfortunate victims, the “CHOP” sound is depicted as a circular whoosh of wind that trails behind the blade of his axe. Likewise, when Otto sees a future paramour, a tiny cupid hovers above his head, shooting an arrow through his ears. The sight of his eyes literally transforming into hearts while blood gushes from his ears is a delightfully disturbing sight. Paired with Bonvillain’s vibrant colors, the art feels like something you might catch on Adult Swim.

Stokely also has a gift for character design; each character, whether minor or major, manages to feel distinct. The best example comes early in the issue with Voldigan the Perfidious, a living shadow with a Cyclopean mask. He is treacherous and conniving, but he’s utterly passe about it and it’s extremely entertaining to watch him backstab others.

Despite its scattershot plotting, The Ludocrats #1 gets by on its absurd charm and reality distorting artwork. If you enjoy Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Rick and Morty, then this comic is for you. Hopefully, future issues will have a more coherent plot.

The Ludocrats #1 is available wherever comics are sold.

The Ludocrats #1
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TL;DR

Despite its scattershot plotting, The Ludocrats #1 gets by on its absurd charm and reality distorting artwork. If you enjoy Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Rick and Morty, then this comic is for you. Hopefully, future issues will have a more coherent plot.